A legitimate professional body can assist its members in advancing their careers while protecting the public from misconduct. Saiosh CEO NEELS NORTJE provides some insight into separating the legitimate professional bodies from the bogus ones

Professional registration for occupational health and safety (OHS) practitioners is relatively new when compared to other recognised professions in South Africa. There are currently more than 100 recognised professional bodies in South Africa that register and declare persons competent to practise in various occupational fields.

Some of these are statutory bodies, which require individuals to be professionally registered in order to practise, while others are voluntary associations. Whether statutory or voluntary, all professional bodies fulfil the same function.

Role of a professional body

Professional bodies and their professional designations are recognised and registered by the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA) in terms of the National Qualifications Framework (NQF) Act 67 of 2008. According to SAQA, a “professional body” is a body of expert practitioners in an occupational field that includes an occupational body and a statutory council.

A “professional designation” is a title or status conferred by a professional body in recognition of a person’s expertise and/or right to practise in an occupational field.

According to SAQA’s definition, the objective is to promote public understanding of, and trust in, professions by establishing a nationally regulated system for the recognition of professional bodies and the registration of professional designations. It is also to protect the public from malpractice related to the fulfilment of the duties and responsibilities of professionals registered with them.

The landscape of the OHS profession in South Africa changed with the establishment of the South African Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (Saiosh), which is the only SAQA-recognised professional body for OHS.

Saiosh has three professional designations registered on the NQF namely: Technical Member (TechSaiosh), Graduate Member (GradSaiosh) and Chartered Member (CMSaiosh).

Is your safety professional body legitimate?

In addition to being recognised as a professional body by SAQA and having SAQA-registered professional
designations in terms of the NQF Act 67 of 2008, the body should also:

• Be registered as a non-profit company in terms of the Companies Act 71 of 2008;

• Have a memorandum of incorporation under Section 16(1) of the Companies Act;

• Be constituted and managed by a board of directors and non-executive directors who are elected and appointed by the members, as prescribed by the Companies Act 71 of 2008;

• Be registered as a non-profit organisation in terms of the Non-profit Organisations Act 71 of 1997;

• Be accredited and recognised as a voluntary association under the Project and Construction Management Professions Act 48 of 2000;

• Function with adequate resources including fixed assets (property, offices and vehicles), liquid assets (financially stable with audited financials) and full-time staff to perform the functions as a professional body as prescribed by the SAQA Policy and Criteria for Recognising a Professional Body and Registering a Professional Designation for the Purposes of the NQF Act, Act 67 of 2008;

• Be VAT registered, tax compliant and exempted under the Value-Added Tax Act 89 of 1991 and the Tax Administration Act 28 of 201;

• Be transparent with annual reports and audited financials tabled for review by its members;

• Be registered and in good standing in terms of the Compensation for Occupational Injuries and Diseases Act 30 of 1993;

• Be governed by a constitution, code of conduct and disciplinary procedure;

• Provide secure digital membership certification (through for example Privyseal);

• Provide development services, including free-to-attend provincial continuous professional development (CPD)-accredited workshops, student assistance and bursary funding;

• Provide value-added free online membership services including webinars, legal advice, legal updates, e-learning programmes and CPD uploads;

• Provide multiple national and provincial membership services including free subscription to a professional journal (SHEQ MANAGEMENT);

• Host annual international conferences;

• Actively lobby for the profession on behalf of its members with governmental departments and related stakeholders; and

• Be affiliated to related professional bodies and stakeholders, locally and internationally, with signed memorandums of understanding in place.

Saiosh a trusted professional body

Over the past 10 years, many attempts have been made by individuals and groups to create safety bodies in South Africa. Only one stood the test of time and has grown to be the largest and most effective professional safety body with more 14 000 members: Saiosh – the only SAQA-recognised professional body for safety professionals in South Africa.

Before parting with your hard-earned cash to pay a membership fee to a safety body, ask yourself whether it is legitimate, ticks all the above boxes and has adequate resources to legally register you professionally and provide a truly professional safety development service on an ongoing basis.

About The Author

Neels Nortje is a founder and the CEO of the South African Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (Saiosh). He has been practicing occupational health and safety for more than 30 years. He started his working career with Eskom in 1981, where he qualified as an architectural draughtsman, and in 1986 changed his focus to safety risk management and qualified with Eskom as an occupational health and safety risk management officer. He holds a N6 Mechanical and Electrical Engineering qualification as well as a National Diploma in Safety Management. He was appointed by the minister of labour to serve on the Minister's Advisory Council for Occupational Health and Safety (ACOHS). He is a Chartered Member of Saiosh (CMSaiosh) and a Chartered Member of IOSH (CMIOSH).

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